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LDP to draft constitutional revision proposals in 2017 for submission to Diet in 2018

  • May 18, 2017
  • , Yomiuri , Lead story
  • JMH Translation

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has begun coordination to draw up constitutional revision proposals within this year in light of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s call for amending the Constitution by 2020. Since deliberations at the Commissions on the Constitution of both houses of the Diet are expected to take time, the LDP is aiming at submitting its proposals to the regular Diet session in 2018. Three proposals are expected to be the subjects for constitutional revision, including Abe’s call for adding a constitutional provision to serve as the legal basis of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF).

 

Senior LDP officials, including Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai and his deputy, Hakubun Shimomura, decided at a meeting held at the party headquarters on May 17 to create a new body under the Headquarters for the Promotion of Revision to the Constitution (chaired by former Justice Minister Okiharu Yasuoka). Subcommittees are being contemplated to speed up the drafting of constitutional revision proposals. Nikai will meet with Yasuoka on May 18 to discuss how to proceed with the deliberations and the details of the planned new body.

 

The LDP leadership has judged that if the draft proposals are presented to the Commissions on the Constitution during the 2018 regular Diet session, and all parties are urged to discuss them, there will be ample time to form a consensus. The party will also discuss the proposals with Komeito and Nippon Ishin [Japan Innovation Party], which are expected to co-sponsor them, before submitting to the Diet.

 

In accordance with Abe’s instructions, the three main topics for discussion are (1) retaining Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 9 of the Constitution but adding a provision on the SDF as its legal basis; (2) an explicit provision on free education, from preschool to university and other forms of higher education; and (3) provisions on national emergencies, such as during major disasters.

 

The LDP constitutional revision headquarters has so far been in charge of the constitutional debate in the party. While Yasuoka and other headquarters officials are well-versed in the issues discussed so far, there are complaints in the party leadership that “not much progress is being made in drafting the proposed amendments because they pay too much attention to consensus-building with the opposition.”

 

The party leadership is also considering appointing Vice President Masahiko Komura and other officials close to Abe as key members of the new body to be created under the headquarters. Nikai told reporters at the Kantei [Prime Minister’s Official Residence] on May 17: “A number of experts have worked very hard until now. We can’t make them work indefinitely,” pointing to the need to form a new organization.

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